Archive for August, 2011

Fine Motor Activities- Playdough, Clay or Theraputty

Why? To develop hand and finger strength.

Materials needed: Playdough, Clay or Theraputty and any number of playdough props- (with a bit of creativity the props aren’t necessary if you can’t access them!)  You can use cutters, rollers, scissors, squeezing syringe type toys, small objects to hide in playdough (marbles, beads, coins), blunt toothpicks, anything you can use to decorate your creations, a nail to draw on your works of art etc


* Kids love making playdough and mixing it is a really good fine motor activity in itself.

* Encourage squashing, poking, rolling, squeezing, pinching (whole hand/ individual fingers)

* Roll small balls and then pinch between thumb and index finger

* Roll out snakes with two hands, cut up with knife and fork or scissors

* Roll out long snakes and form shapes, circle, triangle, square etc and numbers and letters

* Make faces, a big flat circle and then roll balls for eyes, cut up spikey pieces for hair …

* Make a pizza, break apart pieces for pretend toppings, mushrooms, cheese, olives whatever you like and cut up with plastic knife

* A big fat sausage of playdough can be pinched along its back and transformed into a crocodile

* Roll out playdough and use cutters to create biscuits or whatever you can imagine

* Hide the coins in a ball of playdough and see how many can be found in a time frame

* Pretend play, tea party, cooking, food for a pet dragon….

* Who can make the scariest monster? poke eye holes (at least 3!), pinch spikey hair, make a big long tongue and sharp teeth….

* See how many balls you can roll and sit on top of each other!

* Remember lots of praise, fun and laughs

* Packing up can be fun squashing all the creations into a big ball.

Benefits: This fine motor activity can encourage and improve the strength of pencil holding muscles-  the thumb and index fingers in particular and the middle finger. It may help to improve muscle tone (low tone fingers may tire more easily and can appear floppier). It can be a two-handed activity and can be used to practice some life skills i.e. cutting up with plastic knife and fork or scissors. The activity can help with dexterity skills and in-hand coordination. It can be lots of fun and so used as a reward for your little one who has worked so hard practicing their fine motor skills.




Fine Motor Activity- Using Tongs or Tweezers

Why? To work on those pencil gripping and scissor holding muscles in fingers and hands

Materials needed: Tongs- large or small, or tweezers (i.e. from children’s doctors kit), items to sort, such as coloured tiny pom poms, small pastic animals, lego pieces, cubed salad pieces, balls of play dough, tic tacs, sultanas – anything that can be picked up with tongs.


* Have fun- don’t play if your little one is really resisting, maybe incorporate tongs during mealtime to serve some foods/ morning tea/ some treats- be creative

* Lots of praise and encouragement ‘great work’ ‘what a good try’ ‘you are so clever’

* Model activity for child

* Sort items into colour groups/ sizes

* Share treats out evenly between the family members

* Have a race with mum or dad to get a certain number of tic tacs into container

* Pick up item with tongs and run and place in container- then repeat the activity, make a relay game out of it

* As skills improve use the tweezers which will require more precision and skilled control

Benefits: This fine motor activity is a great prewriting and prescissors activity. Your little one is using the same muscle groups as they would be if writing or cutting. The activity works on eye-hand coordination, in hand manipulation and grip strength. Can be lots of fun!!

Fine Motor Activities Warm Up

It is beneficial to do some “warming up”  before you start practicing and enjoying your fine motor activities. This helps the big muscles in the body get ready for play and action!

The postural muscles (muscles of the body that hold it in a natural position) with the other larger muscles (including shoulder muscles) when warmed up or ‘switched on’, create a stable base of core muscles and support to help the muscles of the fingers and hands work more efficiently.

Try a variety of gross motor activities (activities using large muscles of the body) such as:

* Animal walks- bear walk, crab walk, donkey kicks

* Wheelbarrows

* Hitting balloon into the air

* Using a cardboard roll, hold with two hands at chest height and bunt balloon

* Ball skills, start with a larger sized ball, throw and catch, bounce pass, bouncing

* Wall pushups, face wall in standing, legs positioned about 25-35cm away from wall, hands on wall and do standing push ups. For something different add a clap between each push up.

* Exercise ball games (maybe mini sized one), rolling, lying over, using hands to walk off ball, picking up with two hands and throwing.

* Play on monkey bars and ladders 

* Sandpit or garden play- push childs wheelbarrow, dig, rake, carry buckets of sand.

* Bat and ball games, T-Ball, cricket, tennis …

* Wash the car, cubby or kids own bike, involving squeezing out the sponge

* Building activities, hammering, sawing, carrying wood and tool box

A lot of the activities mentioned involve “weight-bearing” through arms, to encourage these muscles to wake up and form a sturdy foundation for doing fine motor activities. Children tend to enjoy lots of the activities used in warm up and are then ready to focus on the fine motor activities presented to them.